I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to write those words. For going on two or three years now, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the third Hollywood G.I. Joe motion picture and while Snake Eyes isn’t a sequel to Rise of COBRA or Retaliation, it is still a major feature film that promises to thrust the brand we love back into the limelight.
I’ve been exuberant and excited about the prospects of a new G.I. Joe film and when Paramount reached out to me to have a conversation with Henry Golding, the star of Snake Eyes, it took me about half a second to agree.
The conversation was informal, over Zoom and lasted about 15 minutes where we discussed several different elements of the Snake Eyes film as well as the brand of G.I. Joe in general. I found Mr. Golding to be extremely likeable, friendly and enthusiastic (he really seemed to love my G.I. Joe: Retaliation poster in my office) and it feels like Snake Eyes is in good hands.
Of course, the first question I had to ask how concerned he was about taking on the role of a character who’s most defining characteristic is that he doesn’t speak. Golding said that “many people reached out to me” about those same concerns but at the end of the day Snake Eyes is an origin story. It gives the opportunity to explore the man before he became Snake Eyes. A time before he lost his voice.”
While it might be tough for us long time G.I. Joe fans to rationalize that there was a time before Snake Eyes lost his voice, the truth is, that remains a somewhat unexplored era of the G.I. Joe Commando’s history. Golding acknowledged this, but also acknowledged the big role that long time G.I. Joe scribe Larry Hama played during the film’s production process.
“Larry was instrumental in creating Snake [Eyes] and Storm [Shadow] and it was important to have his voice be a part of the process”.
By all accounts, Larry has thoroughly enjoyed his time visiting the Snake Eyes set and participated in a great featurette talking about the production of the film and his role in the history of Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and the Arashikage Clan.
Leading up to the film’s release, one of the main discussion points has been around the lack of marketing and more specifically the lack of a film trailer not even ten weeks before the release of the film. In speaking with Mr. Golding on that he’s definitely heard the criticisms, but “we’ve been in such uncertain times. We didn’t want to release a trailer a year ago and make people wait.” The truth is, the film industry has been somewhat upside-down as a result of the global pandemic and certainly Snake Eyes has been impacted by that. Considering the announcement of the release date move was only made a few weeks ago, I suspect there have been a lot of moving parts and while I would have loved to have seen a trailer earlier, the fact is it’s here now, and its magnificent.
One thing that really jumped out at me about the trailer was how heavily the film leans into Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow’s ninja roots. Mr. Golding acknowledged that expressing how critical it was for the film to be made on location in Japan. “We were able to explore ancient settings in a way that green screen simply can’t bring to life.” Elaborating about the green screen question, he talked with admiration about the level of practical effects in the film and how it was a call back to a more old school sort of martial arts filmmaking that really helped bring things to life.
And of course, I couldn’t talk to Henry Golding without at least prodding a little bit about what the future might hold. While he couldn’t say much, he did say “Snake Eyes gets f*cked up– because this story happens before he becomes the operator we know. Truth is, there are so many different G.I. Joe stories that could be told. How he finds Timber, his life in the cabin, there are so many possibilities.”
It certainly seemed to me like perhaps the Snake Eyes story isn’t done. As for G.I. Joe at large, Golding expressed a love for the property, saying “…they’re not super heroes. They’re normal people just like you and me, and as a kid buying the toys, they can see themselves in the uniform– in the armor and do great things without super powers.”
I finished my conversation by asking him about how it felt having his own action figure, and he was quick to pull the G.I. Joe: Classified movie Snake Eyes from his desk, where it had it at hand. Smiling widely, he praised the figure’s design as well as the face scanning. “They even got my trademark beard stubble.”
While things have been somewhat radio silent on the movie front for a while, it feels as though the marketing bomb bay doors are opening, and I for one am on board. I want to thank Paramount and Henry Golding for the opportunity to sit down with him– after spending a few minutes shooting the breeze about my favorite brand, I feel comfortable saying that Snake Eyes is in good hands.
Huge thanks to both Henry Golding and the folks from Paramount for setting up this unique opportunity.
The film releases on July 23rd in theaters everywhere.